Economic Indicators

Monthly Economic Indicators

The Chamber’s Data and Research team tracks key statistics highlighting the Detroit region’s economic growth and recovery.

Michigan and US Indicators

Monthly Unemployment Rate

Michigan’s December 2022 monthly unemployment rate remained at 4.3% . The national unemployment decreased 0.1 percentage points to at 3.6% in December, placing Michigan’s unemployment 0.7 percentage points above the national. rate. The Detroit MSA’s unemployment rate remained the same at 3.6% in November 2022.

For context, Michigan’s peak unemployment rate during the Great Recession reached 15.4% in July 2009. This measurement is considered a lagging indicator, confirming but not foreshadowing long-term market trends. It’s seen as an indicator of the efficiency and effectiveness of an economy.

U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA),The increase in the fourth quarter primarily reflected increases in inventory investment and consumer spending that were partly offset by a decrease in housing investment. For more information, read the full BEA report.

The GDP is measured as the total market value of the goods and services produced within a specific geography during a given time period. Gross domestic product is a key indicator of the general health of the economy and its performance, with increases indicative of economic growth.

Payroll Jobs

The Detroit MSA’s monthly payroll jobs  decreased by 300 to 2,021,400  in December 2022, after a decrease by over 500,000 in April 2020 – the lowest level since prior to 1990. The previous largest monthly job cut since 1990 occurred in 2009, with a seasonally adjusted reduction of 61,400 jobs.

Industry sectors across the region experienced major job losses due to pandemic related shutdowns. In the region, manufacturing increased to 257,500 employed individuals in December 2022. The leisure and hospitality industry has vastly recovered to pre-pandemic employment levels. As of December 2022, the industry employs 174,600 individuals in the region.

New Business Applications

In Michigan, new business applications have totaled 136,801 in 2022, a 9.1% decrease compared to 2021 levels. While applications might have decreased year-over-year, they were well above pre-pandemic levels. Michigan business applications increased 44.9% compared to 2019 levels, more than 42,360 additional applications were filed in 2022 compared to 2019, indicating strong entrepreneurial activity. New business application growth after a recession is a leading indicator of recovery, and often observed after times of economic hardship.

Consumer Sentiment

According to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, consumer sentiment increased to 64.6 in the January 2022 survey, up from 59.7 in December. The Consumer Sentiment Index is a statistical measurement that provides an economic indicator of consumers opinion and optimism of the state of the economy.

According to Surveys of Consumers director, Joanne Hsu, Consumer sentiment remained low from a historical perspective but continued lifting for the second consecutive month, rising 8% above December and reaching about 4% below a year ago. Current assessments of personal finances surged 16% to its highest reading in eight months on the basis of higher incomes and easing inflation. Although the short-run economic outlook fell modestly from December, the long-run outlook rose 7% to its highest level in nine months and is now 17% below its historical average. Read full report.

U.S. Manufacturing PMI®

Manufacturing PMI® registered at 48.4% in December 2022. December PMI® contracted in December for the second time after 30 consecutive months of growth

The Manufacturing PMI® registered at 48.4% in December, 0.6 percentage points below the reading of 49.0% in November, according to the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®). According to the Institute, regarding the overall economy, this figure indicates contraction after 30 straight months of expansion. The Manufacturing PMI® figure is the lowest since May 2020, when it registered 43.5 percent.

ISM® states a reading above 50% shows that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting. The index is based on a monthly survey of supply chain managers and measures general direction of economic trends in manufacturing and other sectors.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport Total Passengers

Detroit Metropolitan Airport experienced a 2.6% increase in total passengers in the month of November 2022 compared to the same month last year. In November 2022, 2.32 million passengers utilized the airport. Cargo volumes increased 0.2% year over year for the month of November 2022. Over 33 million pounds cargo were handled by the airport in November 2022.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is Michigan’s largest airport and one of the world’s leading air transportation hubs with more than 1,100 flights per day to and from four continents. Wayne County Airport Authority drives economic activity in the Detroit region, employing more than 86,000 individuals with an annual economic impact of $10.2 billion.

Automotive Economic Indicators

Annual U.S. Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR)

In December 2022, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) decreased to approximately 13.3 million light vehicle units,  from 14.2 million units in November 2022, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The December SAAR increased 4.8% from the 12.7 million in 2021 but down 6.3% from November’s revised 14.2 million. Total light vehicles sales were 13.7 million in 2022 which was the lowest year since 2011. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the semiconductor microchip shortage, along with other supply chain disruptions, were the principal reasons why sales fell in 2022. 

2023 Forecast 

Despite pressures on the economy and consumers, analysts expect U.S. sales to increase in 2023. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), anticipates U.S. sales will rise to 14.6 million in 2023. Production will continue to struggle through supply shortages and consumers will continue to face high vehicle prices, higher interest rates, and low inventory levels.

Monthly U.S. Light Vehicle Sales

Vehicle sales increase 4.5% year over year in December 2022 indicating an improved supply situation. 

Monthly U.S. vehicle sales volume increased 12.0% to 1.30 million units sold in December 2022. Overall, vehicle sales increased 4.5% year over year in December. According to senior economist at Cox Automotive, Charlie Chesbrough, there are clear examples of better inventory resulting in better sales this year. 

In April 2020, light vehicles sales in the United States experienced the lowest total since early 2010, selling 717,578 units. A decline in sales began in March 2020 with 994,707 units sold, but April was the first full month with widespread manufacturing shutdowns following the stay-at-home orders and closure of nonessential businesses. When comparing April 2019 to April 2020, sales decreased by 85% year over year.

U.S. Automotive Production

In November 2022, U.S. auto production decreased to 133,400 units—a 11.0% decrease from the previous month. Production dramatically decreased to 1,700 in April 2020 due to pandemic restrictions. Followed by the global microchip shortage coming out of the pandemic drastically reduced production, leading to low inventories on dealer lots and lower sales volumes, shortages are not yet finished but production has begun to rebound.

Research & Data

Learn about the region’s economics, workforce and talent, industry clusters and more.

For additional information, contact the Data and Research team.

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